10 Ways to Stay Safe on Social Media Sites

Have you ever been annoyed with your parents for being on your back 24/7 when you are on the computer? I have. Parents look through the computer history to view recent searches; schedule an allotment of time for their children to use the computer; and monitor social media sites all to be sure that their teens are safe and responsible.

Although this may irritate teenagers throughout the world, I have realized that parents everywhere are simply doing this for their child’s own good. There are thousands of cases where kids have been bullied, mistreated, manipulated, abducted, and unfortunately, even killed all because of the misuse of the Internet.

However, as a teen, it is our responsibility to learn to avoid these situations, to take it into our hands to practice safety. Here are the top ten ways to stay safe on social media websites…

  1. Be a responsible cyber citizen: Remember, you are on the Internet and everyone can see what you are doing. Keep writing PG and respect others. Don’t write anything you will later regret.
  2. Do not open e-mail from unknown sources.
  3. Use “hard-to-guess” passwords and keep them private.
  4. Never store personal information on your mobile device or in messages or e-mails.
  5. Check your privacy settings.
  6. Think twice about who you add, follow, or connect with on social media sites; avoid cyber-strangers.
  7. Be careful what advertisements or pop-ups you click on.
  8. Do not let peer pressure or what other people are doing on these sites convince you to do something you are not comfortable with.
  9. Use the Internet for appropriate research.
  10. Most importantly, remain true to your own morals and values.
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Please Reiterate that Interruption 2

“Candidates call for second manifest destiny!”

It seems that the less informative and fact based each candidate’s platforms become, the more roads, bridges, and schools we need!

In fact, after counting the amount of randomly proposed public works projects, contractors expect to need to annex Mexico for more space. Americans are being told to practice their Spanish and stock up on sombreros.


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Inside the Mind of a Junior

It would be very accurate to describe junior year (so far) in one word, and one word only: stressful.  Now don’t get me wrong, at times it really isn’t too bad and challenges are always welcome; however, when juniors get work, there’s a lot of it and it’s very time consuming.

Junior year is defined as one of the most important years of high school; colleges look closely at the classes students take, the grades received, and the clubs and activities students are involved in. Believe it or not, it is difficult for students to juggle every aspect of life: remaining active in the clubs joined, playing on a school team, studying for Physics and Trigonometry tests, while maintaining a life outside of school.

To add to these stress factors, juniors are preparing for and taking those wonderful exams known as the SATs! This four hour test really tops it all off. Students stress about this test all year because of the importance it plays for defining the future. Although preparation is time consuming, most kids dedicate time to take classes or get tutored one-on-one in preparation. Depending on each session, classes can run anywhere between one and three hours long, and can even occur twice a week throughout a six-week time period.

Of course everyone wants to score high on the test because most colleges use the SAT scores as an aspect for admission. So, not only are classes and tutoring a must, but taking the pre-test is also a commonality. Taking the PSAT on a Saturday morning shouldn’t be too demanding for students, right? Wrong.

Students may be tied to a volleyball or soccer tournament all day, stuck building the float for Homecoming because they joined Student Council, or babysitting in order to make money to be independent.  There is also the possibility to complete school work before Monday. In the back of a Junior’s mind, a clock ticks to remind him/her that taking the PSAT is over two hours long. However, the mind also reminds him/her that this must be done because the SATs are essential to the future…but so are sports and clubs and family and friends and school and normalcy?

To add to this consistent nagging that goes on in a junior’s brain, college visits begin as well. In order to go visit these colleges, schedules must be cleared for at least one day, maybe even two.  This means spending weekends in places hours away from home, but it does allow individuals room to grow, room to see what life after high school promises. As juniors day dream about the independence and learning that occur outside of Westlake’s doors, they begin to form ideas and opinions about colleges: “What do I want to go to school for? Which colleges offer what I want? What is required to get into these schools?”

Yet, in the midst of this excitement, juniors must remember that it may not be that easy to be free one Saturday or Sunday because of the PSAT, the huge vocabulary test on Monday, and the Science group project due on Tuesday. So, they think, “Now what?” On the car ride to and from the next step of life (college) fret accompanies these individuals while attempting to study for all that awaits them home at Westlake.

Upon return to school, the stress subsides as tests are taken and scored; more work is given and completed; new understandings help students grow; and another step towards independence is taken. Although Junior year is filled with a great deal of stress and frustration, the hard work does pay off; all that Junior year stands for illustrates that we, the students, are ready for our new challenge: Senior Year.

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Please Reiterate that Interruption

“Read my lips! No, seriously you need to, the other candidate is talking over me…”

Both Romney and Obama have deployed a new campaign tactic that they implemented during the debates this past week.  Political strategists call it “Passive aggressively talking over one-another,” and these candidates cannot get enough of it.

“I love listening to the candidates simultaneously present their opinions.  Dissecting the muddled, 90-to-120-second speeches on tax reform and job creation is like a puzzle!” says Henry Moore, professional voter.

Some viewers weren’t really sure if they understood all of what they did hear during the debate last week.

Fortunately, one thing they are all certain of is each candidate’s capability of making simple hand gestures towards questioners, and thanking people.


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Why Travel?

Traveling has played a vital role in helping to define my character. With today’s advances in transportation and greater unity amongst nations, we as individuals have the opportunity to travel to previously inaccessible locations.

By experiencing new places, my trips to various lands have assisted expanding my own view on life, exposing me to a diverse array of ideologies and cultures which differ from my own principles.

From the moment I stepped foot in Thailand, I immediately noticed the differences regarding the food, landscape and traditions of the natives. However, it took me a while to figure out that I had overlooked the most essential factor that clearly contrasted from my culture: their mindset.

Growing up in the United States, where resources are abundant, I have taken many aspects of life for granted. My time spent in remote areas of Thailand has opened my eyes to how people can adapt to living with so little.

Along the coast of Hua Hin, fishermen are dependent on the ocean as their only source of income, creating their own self-made boats with halogen lights to attract fish: basic but effective.  Asking a fisherman to join him in his daily routine, I soon found myself on a rocking boat roughly two miles from the shoreline. The boat was far from luxurious; endless waves sprayed the faded wooden deck, making movement impossible due to the slippery condition. Ending up sitting directly on the wooden planks, I was given a simple string attached to a hook to catch the elusive squids. Despite seeming extremely crude, the string with the hook proved to an effective method.

When I think back upon this experience, I realize that it can be compared to any scenario. Regardless of the situation, I can always manage to make the most out of my life with the resources I possess.

No longer do I look at obstacles as having no solutions; opening my eyes to numerous “open doors” that could potentially solve the issues.  By experiencing firsthand how the native people in Thailand adapted to certain situations, I have opened my mind and I am now willing to see how different areas of the world exist.

Through cultural awareness and understanding, I have learned to appreciate and respect where my own family has come from.  The experience of being in a completely different region within a foreign country for a period of time has proved that role of perception plays the most essential part of shaping individuals’ reality, morals, beliefs, and lifestyle.

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Freshmen Join the Westlake Community

When I first saw the list of all the possible clubs and sports that I could join, all I could say was, “Wow.”

Clubs range from the Art Club, led by Mrs. Frawley; the English Club, led by Ms. Matthews; the Junior Statesmen of America, led by Mrs. Greco and Mr. Laterza; to the Student Council, led by a group of teachers who help represent each grade. The Westlake community also offers sports for all to join. Students join clubs and sports to practice a skill, illustrate their creativity, collaborate with peers, compete, and expand their horizons.

As a newbie to the school, my first instinct was to join every club possible. I thought that when I applied to college, the admissions director would look at my transcript and be blown away by the amount of clubs that I attended.

I made so many plans to join all the clubs I was interested in, until I noticed something: I had an overwhelming workload. My once miniscule amount of homework had tripled. I realized that I did not have time for all the clubs I had wanted to participate in.

As the beginning of October approached, I realized which clubs would be worth my time and which would not. Now all that I am thinking is to get a couple of my friends to join the clubs that I do enjoy. My hope for the end of the year if that I will stick with all my decisions, I won’t back down, and I will make my mark on the Westlake community, along with all of my peers.


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Westlake Wants YOU!

After graduating from high school, individuals have freedom. Choices become endless – however, going to college or getting a job immediately demand resumes, which present individuals’ background, skills, interests, and involvement.

Résumés can be used for a variety of reasons, but for teens across America, they are used to apply for employment and college. In order to assure that a resume is complete, it is essential for individuals to build up their own personal job and educational experiences.

Here at Westlake, students have the opportunity to begin building a distinguished resume with their selection of extracurricular activities. Joining clubs is very important, not only do colleges look at this, but in the process, lasting friendships are created, leadership skills are practiced, and fun is had. Clubs and sports are a good way to meet new people because the more friends you have the better! Westlake offers sports in the Fall, Winter, and Spring seasons, and activities throughout the year! Although time management and grit are needed to participate in these sports and clubs, they are well worth it. Regret is never a word that Wildcats say.

Colleges want to see a well-rounded individual who is active, so join two or three clubs or sports teams each year, and stay with them! Commitment is an excellent quality to showcase, and Wildcats are committed to excellence! Remember, Westlake wants YOU!

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Giving a Voice to the Voiceless

Passion is a very strong feeling about a person or thing. Passion is an intense emotion, compelling feeling, enthusiasm, or desire for something. Passion is a strong amorous feeling or desire; pass is love. Passion is an outburst expressing intense emotion. However, passion to Gabby Scampone comes in the form of animals.

Society defines a hero as a person admired for his or her brave deeds. Heroes typically receive a lot of publicity for their contributions to society, but this is not always the case. Ordinary people also contribute to society greatly, without receiving the recognition they deserve. Gabby Scampone is one of these unrecognized heroes, fighting for the rights of animals.

“I was born with a passion for animals and ever since I can remember it has become stronger.” Gabby Scampone’s childhood was consumed by her strong feelings towards animals. When she was in eighth grade, she began volunteering at the Nature Center, which she continued for the next three years.  At the Nature Center, Gabby was able to interact with many different animals by cleaning their cages, bathing them, grooming them, feeding them, and providing love and care. Knowing farm animals get slaughtered, Gabby and a group of workers saved a billy goat’s life by rescuing it and bringing it into the Nature Center. From her first save, her connections with animals grew even stronger.

As a teen, you need to become independent, self-directed and financially comfortable in order to do things without your parents’ help. For Gabby to fulfill her needs, she applied to Pet Land.  Knowing that she would be able to not only make money, but most importantly help animals, she took it as a great opportunity.  At her job, she cares for the animals, helps them find a home and educates the public about how to best treat whichever animal they purchase. “Knowing that I’m able to influence a person in saving an animal’s life means a lot to me.” No matter how small or big the animal is Gabby is willing to do whatever it takes to make its life better. She firmly believes in animal rights and will do anything to be their strongest advocate; she even avoids fashion’s latest trends.

Fur coats, UGG boats, and leather jackets play a huge role in the fashion world. Although many people do not view this type of animal use as unethical, Gabby does. “Don’t get me wrong, fur clothing is beautiful, but I care more about the animals and their life than I do about my fashion sense.” Gabby believes that animals deserve the same humane treatment that humans get. She constantly reminds people about the form of abuse that takes place during this process and makes sure she educates as many people as she can.

“Animals can’t stand up for themselves, so people have to protect them, they rely on them.” Gabby sees animal abuse as a chief issue and feels that the only way to protect them is to advocate for them. Since animals cannot speak up for themselves, Gabby gives them a voice. People should put themselves in the animal’s shoes and then ask themselves: “Would I like it if someone left me out in the cold and didn’t feed me?” The compassion visible here will continue to follow Gabby throughout life.

Just a few days ago, Gabby rescued a liter of six kittens. She wasn’t able to keep any since her father is highly allergic to them, so she decided to give them away. The last thing she wanted to do was give them to the shelter, so she found responsible homes for each one. She’s placed her faith in me that I too will be an animal lover.

Because of Gabby’s strong feelings towards animals, she’s decided she will enter the field of veterinary practice after high school. All the times where Gabby gave up her free time to take care of animals makes her who she is today: an unsung hero. When asked if she viewed herself as a hero, Gabby replied “Not really because this is what normal for me; I’ve been doing this for so long.” Even though Gabby herself does not recognize her heroism, the rest of the Westlake community considers her to be one.

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The Senior Experience


Juggling the Common Application, deadlines, SATs, an endless amount of supplemental essays, and senior superlatives is hard enough, but throw in running to AP classes…senior year is defined simply as chaotic.

Your friends seem to have their lives under control; actually when it comes down to it, it seems that everyone does. That is everyone, except you. You’re scared, excited, and unsure of what the future has to offer.

What can you do at this point? It’s too early to start waiting for results, but you do have time to offer helpful advice to the current juniors. For my fellow juniors, heed the words of a senior: prepare college essays over the summer; do well on your SAT (the first time it comes around-it’s one less thing to worry about); manage your time wisely (it’s your greatest enemy); and most of all focus on good habits (they either make or break you).

Freshmen: start practicing SAT words on a daily basis; get involved in extracurricular activities; and get join at least 3 clubs that are important to your interests. Whether it’s finding a part-time job, joining a club, or helping out in the community, becoming a part of something shows that you could handle more than homework. However, if you are a sophomore or junior, it is never too late!

Colleges are interested in someone who is unique and who will contribute to their school. Whichever activity you choose, stick with it. Being able to commit to high school activities shows that you will likely commit to college ones.

Sophomores: take part in the National Merit Scholarship (PSAT) and see how well you know the words from last year’s practice efforts. Speak with friends and family about their college experiences, and ask them about the positive and negative aspects of schools they attended. Take a look at student requirements, and participate in high school classes that will help you fulfill them.

Juniors: it is time for the SAT and/or ACT; try your best and let all that follows, follow.

Last but not least, here we are, senior year. It’s your time to shine; if everything’s in order, have a wonderful experience as a graduate of Westlake.  Most colleges will let you know their decisions by the beginning of May. Once you have received the results, consider your options. Be mindful of financial need, the location, and the reputation of each college. Let each school know if you have accepted their offer as soon as possible.

Now, release a big sigh of relief. Admittedly, the application process can get a little tedious, but finishing feels great. Just sit back and relax. This is in the bag.

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